You live in the Midwest, you think about making a trip to Florida, what is the first thing that pops into your head? The beach, Disney theme park, a vacation. What about being there for the birth of your newborn child? The child that you have been dreaming about and wishing for? The baby that you will be adopting, completing your family unit? That is exactly what this family made a trip to Florida for.
For some, the adoption process can be slow and painful. There is no predictability to the process. It can be large amounts time and lots of energy for the stars to align. It’s a tough one with loads of paperwork and in home meetings. This family got lucky. The cards lined up for a royal flush in such a short time frame. They were matched with a mom less than one week after talking with their agency and before they were formally approved with the state. It was like lightning had struck their wishes and lit a fire under all things adopt baby. At this point the birth mom was around 7 months along. They were able to fly to Florida and meet the mother, talk with her, and understand her wishes and thoughts easing the process for both birth mom and adopting family. While the last few months of waiting was agonizing, this family still knew they were the lucky.
Once they received the call that birth mom was in labor, they hopped on a plane and landed in sunny Florida less than 12 hours later. They were able to stay in the Ronald McDonald house located within walking distance of the birth hospital for the full 2.5 weeks they were in town. One full day of waiting in a hospital lobby and there they were, holding their brand new son, 3 hours old. Every adoption story is different and the speed with which an adopting family is able to see the newborn varies greatly. This birth mother really thought about her child, the new home it was going to and how to ease that transition the best possible way. Skin to skin bonding was important to both the birth mother and the adoption family allowing for all those new baby and new parent smells to soak in.
This is where I come into the story. I got an email one afternoon asking me about documenting an adoption for a new family. She wasn’t sure on all the details yet, but she knew in her heart that she wanted all of this new baby’s story preserved for the future. She knew that those first few days in Florida were really going to mean something to this little guy when he gets older (and would mean the world to them). She knew what a life changing event was about to come barreling through their door. I of course screamed a little (well maybe a lot) at the chance to photograph this. I mean, what a story (plus any chance to photograph newborns is top on my to-do list)! We worked out some details, things still being up in the air as far as due date, flights, how long they would be in Florida, me being able to be around the Ronald McDonald house. Then I had to wait, something I don’t do well. We finalized the date and time, I am ready to head out and my sitter is late (something that never happens), now they were back to waiting on me. Session completed (so much fun and super cute) and I am back to waiting until I hear the final ok that everything is totally completely finalized! See how this was just a big waiting game and worth every minute?
I spent an entire afternoon with this new family documenting their special places that has been the whole existence of their world over the last few weeks. They spent afternoons walking the local parks around downtown, learning how to be a new parent, how to change diapers and give bottles on the fly and how to soothe a newborn. This is something all of us new parents go through, learning what cry means what, how to rock, when to bounce, when to try a change of space. Watching them brought back such familiar memories of my husband and me with our first newborn. Holding them like they are a stick of dynamite, careful with each move, before we know that they are tougher than they look.
We walked by the hospital where he was born, the park that they walked every day at least once, sometimes times two or three times (fresh air always agrees with a crying baby), we went downtown to walk by the lake and get a late dinner. I watched them read to their newborn with the utmost enthusiasm that is found in brand new parents. I watched them just be. That is what is great about a documentary session, families are able to just be, no pretense, no stress, nothing fake. Now they have this part of their son's story documented in an album on the shelf, ready and waiting for him. Waiting for him to ask questions, to seek answers that only they can give him along with hearts full of love.
Do you have a story to tell? It doesn't have to be to an epic adoption story, believe it or not just your real life is worth documenting. The everyday real moments in life make beautiful stories too. Let me tell your beautiful real life story!